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World Trade Organization (WTO). Specifically, it will summarize the mission statement of the WTO, and identify stakeholders and their respective position regarding the organization's future evolution. The charge has been made that the WTO enables multinational corporations to be intrusive to certain segments of societies. Evaluate whether the charge is valid and support your position with relative documentation and reasoning. What is the foreseeable future for the next ten years?
THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION
What is the World Trade Organization? This multi-national group has more than 140 members, which account for over 97% of world trade. At this time, there are about 30 others discussing membership. The entire membership makes decisions, most usually by consensus. The WTO can use majority voting, but majority voting has never been used in the WTO, and was "extremely rare under the WTO's predecessor, GATT" (WTO.org). The main office is located in Geneva, Switzerland, and there are no branch offices. About 550 people work for the organization, including a director-general, who heads the organization. The mission statement of the WTO is complex and varied. This condensed view of their purpose comes from their website:
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world's trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business (WTO.org).
The major stakeholders in the WTO are the United States, the 15-member European Union, made up of 15 European member states, and Japan. Each member gets one vote in WTO decisions, despite the size of the nation or the value of their international trade. However, this does not necessarily mean that each country only exerts a certain amount of pressure or influence on specific issues facing that country. As one expert points out about the influence available to countries, "the level of influence is also determined by the importance of the matter for the country. For example, Argentina, a relatively small trading nation, is an important meat exporter and has more influence on decisions concerning international trade in bovine meat than on other topics" (Hoekman and Kostecki 42).
The WTO is a relatively new organization; it has only been in existence since 1995, and it is a permanent body but not a specialized agency of the United Nations. The WTO was created to replace the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was created after the end of World War II. Many economists believe "GATT and the WTO have helped to create a strong and prosperous trading system contributing to unprecedented growth" (WTO.org).
While the WTO is heralded by many as the best way to deal with burgeoning world trade, there are others who believe the WTO favors larger member nations, such as the United States and Japan, at the expense of the smaller member countries who do not have the power to lobby and veto. Some of the WTO critics have become extremely vocal during WTO meetings held around the world. One of the most notable protests took place in 1998 in Seattle, where demonstrators became violent and destroyed property in the Seattle area when they felt their protests were not being heard. Many believe the WTO is secretive and undemocratic because its meetings are not public, and are held behind closed doors.
As far as the WTO itself is concerned, most important WTO documents are made public. WTO decisions, panel findings, and other major documents of the WTO bodies are published in a series entitled Basic Instruments and Selected Documents (BISD) edited by the WTO Secretariat in Geneva. The Secretariat also prepares regular newsletters and publishes ad hoc studies on particular aspects of the multilateral trading system (Hoekman and Kostecki 43).
Many others believe the WTO is supportive of big business at the expense of the environment and small, third world countries. However, many experts take a more balanced view of the WTO and its mission in the world. "The WTO is not about global governance, it's about the right to trade; as such it's simply a set of rules about multinational…[continue]
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